Kia Electrifies Popular Soul Hatchback

At the recent 2014 Chicago Auto Show, Kia unveiled its first electric vehicle destined for the United States. The 2015 Kia Soul EV is based on one of Kia’s signature models, the funky and sporty Kia Soul hatchback, which has won a fast cult following among consumers since its introduction to the American market four years ago. Despite its compact dimensions and bold styling, the Soul has become one of Kia’s most popular vehicles in recent years.

With a somewhat larger-than-average 27-kilowatt-hour battery pack, the Soul EV should surpass the driving ranges of other recently introduced compact EVs on the market like the Honda Fit EV (82 miles), the Chevy Spark EV (82 miles), Smart ED (84 miles) and Fiat 500e (87 miles). Kia says the “optimal” range for the Soul EV is roughly 124 miles, but in everyday conditions the Soul will likely receive an EPA rating closer to about 90 miles of range.

The car will provide 109 horsepower and a top speed of 90 mph. Charging will take about five hours using a standard home charging station, but with its fast-charging capability the Soul EV should be able to reach an 80-percent charge level in roughly a half hour at special public charging stations.

The Soul’s built-in popularity among urban drivers both young and old could be its greatest advantage. The hatchback was introduced to the U.S. four years ago in a series of commercials featuring a crew of stylish hamsters cruising down urban thoroughfares blasting music from hip, contemporary artists. The ads won multiple awards and contributed to building the Soul’s image as a fun, cool and urban-friendly vehicle.

The Soul received a full revamping for 2014, modernizing its already unique boxy styling and adding more high-quality materials and roominess to the interior. Many critics noted the surprising amount of cargo space the Soul offers compared to other compacts, as well as an impressive cadre of standard features.

The Soul EV will receive its own styling flourishes, including a solid grill (which opens to reveal the car’s EV charge port) and sleek aerodynamic wheels.

So how many fans will end up taking the plunge into an electric vehicle for the first time because it’s a Soul? The answer will be based on how many of the vehicles Kia makes—the company hasn’t announced planned production figures for the car. Pricing is also yet to be announced, but leases for other limited-production small EVs have recently been slashed to as low as $200 per month.

Beginning this fall, the small plug-in hatchback will become available to drivers in five states: California, New York, New Jersey, Oregon and Maryland.

Article by Brad Berman, appearing courtesy ebay Green Driving.

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